CAMILLO SCHUMANN (1872 - 1946)
Camillo Schumann was born on 10 March 1872 in Königstein, Saxony, the son of Clemens Schumann (1839–1918) the town’s director of music. From an early age he mastered several instruments and made a great contribution to the family’s music-making. When he was twelve years old he became conductor of a local wind group, a traditional Turmblasen ensemble, in the tower of the town church. In 1889 he entered the Leipzig Conservatoire and received his basic education, until 1893. His teachers were the composer Carl Reinecke, the music-theorist Salomon Jadassohn, the piano professor Bruno Zwintscher and the organist Paul Homeyer. In 1894/5 he attended the High School for Music in Berlin, studied with Woldemar Bargiel and Robert Radecke and gained his degree with honours. On 1 October 1896 he was appointed to the city church of St George in Eisenach and to the Wartburg chapel. There Schumann developed his talent to the maximum. He performed almost the whole canon of organ works from Gabrieli to Reger and specialised particularly in the music of (J.S.) Bach. Alongside the music of Bach and Handel, who were his favourites, he frequently included in his organ recitals works by Mendelssohn, Rheinberger, Liszt, Piutti, Merkel and Samuel de Lange, who dedicated his first organ sonata to him. It was in Eisenach too that most of his first performances took place. With his brother Georg he championed especially the construction of a large new Jehmlich organ as well as the restoration of Bach’s house in the town.
As pianist, organist and leader of the Eisenach Trio Association he was widely regarded as an acclaimed interpreter and virtuoso, especially in performances of his own works. Musical personalities such as Hermann Kretzschmar, Wilhelm Berger, Paul Claussnitzer, Alfred Lorenz and Arnold Schering all paid tribute to his interpretative and compositional achievements. Even Anton Rubinstein commented on his remarkable accomplishments.
Schumann’s achievements were honoured with the conferring on him of the title Grand Ducal Music Director and Court Organist of Saxony. In 1911 he became a member of the collective of experts of the Thuringian States for works of musical art in Weimar. He was given a lectureship in organ and composition at the Brill Conservatory in Eisenach. In 1914 he moved to Bad Gottleuba and devoted himself entirely to composition. The hardships of the war and post-war period brought about increasing financial difficulties for Schumann, especially as he adhered to his customary way of composing and ignored completely the musical trends of that time, which made it difficult to get his most recent works published. Yet he was not completely forgotten in his homeland. Bowing to necessity, he accepted further church music duties in Markersbach (1921–1946) and in Langenhennersdorf (1928–1941). Undeterred, he continued to compose and to give concerts as an organ soloist in Dresden, Pirna und Königstein and his contribution to the local cultural scene was far-reaching. Camillo Schumann died on 29 December 1946 in Bad Gottleuba, where he was also laid to rest. His grave is still preserved today.
Camillo Schumann’s work encompasses almost all musical genres. Over three hundred compositions have been listed, including a variety of chamber music works, piano works, cantatas with organ or orchestra, works for harmonium and a large body of pieces for organ. Chamber music occupies the biggest part of Schumann’s output. He wrote three piano trios, five sonatas for piano and violin, three cello sonatas, two horn sonatas, two clarinet sonatas, two oboe sonatas, a flute sonata and many other compositions for various instrumental combinations. Almost all of these works were never published and exist only in manuscript. His tonal language was much influenced by the sound-world of Brahms as well as by the great late-romantic school of Liszt, while the immense power and virtuosity of his piano-writing owes much to Rachmaninov. The wonderfully distinctive ease of his melodic writing, particularly in his slow movements, bears witness to a consummate composer.
– Ulrich Rasche